New Greek PM a Fiery Conservative

Posted June 20th, 2012 at 6:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Greece's new prime minister Antonis Samaras is a fiery conservative who reluctantly accepted the European bailout and vows to push the country's lenders to rewrite its harsh terms.

The 61-year-old Samaras comes from one of Greece's most prominent families, which includes politicians, professors, and authors. He was educated in the United States, with degrees from Harvard and Amherst College.

Samaras returned to Greece and at the young age of 26, and was elected to parliament as a member of the conservative New Democracy party.

Samaras rose upward through the party, becoming finance minister and foreign minister.

But his staunch unwillingness to negotiate with the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia — also the name of a historic Greek province — cost him his job as foreign minister in 1992.

He quit New Democracy to found his own political party, only to return to his old party in 2004. He was elected as New Democracy chief in 2009 shortly after the Socialists trounced the conservatives in parliamentary elections.

As conservative leader, he opposed the first European economic bailout 2010 but gave a lukewarm endorsement of last year's second bailout as part of a deal to allow him to be part of a unity government ahead of new elections.